Reflections From Our Trip to Cuba
November 8, 2016
By Rev. Linda Roby
The cool, early morning breeze gave way to afternoon heat and humidity, paralleling the two dimensional country we were experiencing: one dimension refreshing and hopeful, another, the remnants of more than 50 years of seclusion. Traveling with us were two Cuban born Americans, Ruben and Alina Esquivel. Having fled the country as children 55 years ago, this journey marked their first time to return, and their experience reconciling what ‘was’ Cuba with what ‘is’ enriched our entire group’s understanding.
Guiding us throughout the journey, Dr. Stoker challenged us to examine our thinking, our feeling, and our call to action. Through Ruben and Alina Esquivel, now active members of FUMC Desoto, we learned of the chaos, the loneliness and painstaking rebuilding of families to make a new life in a foreign country that have now become their home. We became acclimated with the struggles of the people we met, their hopes for a better future, and the tender, even fragile, social environment they must carefully navigate to bring their dreams to life.
Within this week of study, rest, play and witness, we discovered the awakening of faith made possible by drawing wide the circle of our faith community. Nearly two decades ago, the United Methodist Church, with significant support from the Florida UMC conference, quietly began collaborating with Cuban pastors studying at SMU’s Perkins School of Theology. Several churches in the North Texas United Methodist Conference have been supportive as well, including FUMC Desoto, FUMC Richardson, FUMC Denton and Highland Park UMC. That partnership now bears fruit in the Cuban Methodist movement that has grown from a timid 10,000 to a love filled and passionate membership of over 50,000 throughout the country, and we were grateful to witness and partake in it’s momentum firsthand.
On this journey, we joined historical understanding with hope for a brighter and shared future, moving beyond our cultural identities as Cubans and Americans to view each other as brothers and sisters in Christ. The work before us all is immense. We need to be intentional about our thoughts – to ensure they are fully informed, our feelings – to ensure they are rooted in a shared Christian experience, and our actions – to ensure they benefit and embrace a wider community of faith. May God guide us into a future of hope, joy and love.